By Dan Beard
The Mandan Ridge-Pole
After the hardships of a wilderness trip up near Hudson Bay in search of fresh
ideas for you boys, the writer is glad to get back to his own camp at Wild
Lands, on Big-Tik Pond, Pike County, Pennsylvania, where he may work in the
woods, even if he has not time to play there. Work and play, however, are the
same thing under different names, for play is doing a thing because you want to
do it, and work is doing the same thing because you must do it.
In his books for
the boys the writer always tries to remember the things he wanted to do when he
himself was a lad, but things which he often failed to do, because there was no
one writing for boys then on these topics, and older people did not give much
time to superintending boys' play. It is safe to say that no boy who has read Robinson
Crusoe, Swiss Family Robinson, etc., has not,
as he closed these books, given a sigh and wished for a desert island, or at
least a cave house, and there is no good reason why he should not have a cave
house. Most boys have made attempts to dig caves, but this is dangerous work,
for the bank is very apt to cave in on the workers, and does so somewhere in the
country every year.
To do away with this real danger the Founder designed and put in his Jack of All Trades the first working drawings of an underground
club-house ever published; but since then other writers, lacking inventive
skill, have used the author's underground house designs as their own, and
published them for the boys, so now it is "up to" the author to
furnish a new set of designs, and here they are:
This Camp, Den, or Mandan Council
can be built in the woods, a vacant lot, or a city backyard, as the case may
be. If your Fort has access to the woods and open country, cut two crotched or
forked sticks like those shown by E and F in Fig. 127. Dig
two holes two or three
feet in the ground --the deeper the better--and set the poles in them, hammering
the ground down tightly about them so that they will be firm and rigid; then cut
a ridge-pole (A B, Fig. 127) and place it in the crotches as shown in the
diagram. To make
The Frame of a Mandan
cut a goodly number of poles (G G G, Fig. 128) and lay them up against the
ridge-pole, as shown in the diagram (Fig. 128).
To make the sides firm, force the lower ends of the G poles into the ground;
or, if the ground is too rocky, place a row of big stones at the base of the side or G poles, to prevent them from
spreading out at their base and slipping from the ridge-pole.
The Mandan's Rear Alcove
At the back end of
the shack make a half--circle on the X Y (Fig. 129), and set up a number of poles
with their upper ends resting against the A B stick, or ridge--pole, and in the fork of the E stick, or upright, with their lower ends
pushed into the ground on the half-circle mark (Fig. 129). It is only necessary
Cover the Frame
Two Ways to Cover the Aides
with a thatch of balsam boughs, straw, hay, or bark to transform it into a
good camp. To thatch with balsam or other boughs it is necessary to have some
poles nailed on horizontally, as L L (Fig. 130), or some smaller green sticks
woven in and out of the G sticks, basket fashion, as M M (Fig. 130). Begin at the
bottom as you would in shingling a house, and weave in the green boughs as shown
by K (Fig. 130).
Overlapping these put another row of thatching, and so on until the top is reached. Do the same with the opposite side, and
the camp is covered ready for occupancy. If you are so very fortunate as to be
in a real wild country, where big pieces of green bark of spruce or birch may be
obtained from lumber camps, or any other bark which may be removed in big
pieces, then you can
Shingle the Shack with Bark
Begin at the bottom, and place the pieces of bark (H H, Fig. 130) so that the
end of one piece overlaps the end of the other. When the bottom row is finished, put on another row in the same
manner, with their ends overlapping each other and their bottoms overlapping the
first row, and so on until the top is reached.
Hold the bark in place by laying
heavy poles against them, as shown in Fig. 130. Do the other side the same way,
and cover the top or sides by another row of pieces overlapping the top rows of
Two Ways of Fixing the Roof-Tree for a Board Roof
But if your Fort is in the city or town you can use such material as the town
affords, and make your ridge-pole (A B) of two-by-four timber notched at each end, as shown by
A1 A1 (Fig. 131), to
fit on the top of the upright E and to be firmly nailed in place. Or a plank may
be nailed, with its edge upward, to the upright E, as shown by A2 (Fig. 131),
and the sides made of boards (G1 G1 G1, Fig. 131).
Any sort of lumber can be
used for the G Siding, and covered with old tin roofing, oil-cloth, or anything
which will prevent the water from leaking through the cracks.
All Done--Lots of Fun
To make a cave of one of these shacks it is necessary to cover the brush, boards, or thatch
with sods, clay, and dirt, as in Fig. 132. A hole is left at A for a chimney.
The fireplace is made directly under the chimney hole, so that the smoke may
ascend and go out of the chimney. The ends of the sticks at A (Fig. 129) will
not interfere with the passage of the smoke, and may be left inside the chimney.
If grass seed, weeds, or flowers are planted on the dirt-covered shack, they
will grow, and the Mandan council-house will look like a green mound of earth or
If you make a cave-house of Fig. 131, cover the sides with any old thing you
can find, like pieces of canvas, oilcloth, tin, sheet-iron, or carpet laid over
your green boughs; then hay, straw, grass, dry leaves, or a thick layer of small
green boughs with the leaves on them, and over this put your sods and dirt.
Make the entrance (Fig. 132) in the same manner as you make the main
structure, as shown by the dotted lines in the diagram.
To make a cave of one of these shacks, cover the thatching with sods or clay,
over which put a layer of fine dirt and plant it thickly with grass seed, grain, or any cheap,
quick-growing plants; even
weeds may be used to conceal the house and give it the appearance of a mound.
This kind of work needs more than one boy's labor, and is best built by a club
of boys like a Fort of the Sons of Daniel Boone. Such a club must have a constitution, and the reader will find one here suited to his needs as an
out-door lad or a Buckskin boy of America.
The Boy Pioneers